Friday, June 28, 2013

One of Those Weeks.....

I think this picture pretty much sums up my week.  In fact it was probably the high point........

Me:  "Henry.  Why did you do that?"
Henry:  "I didn't want that (pointing at the toilet paper) on there (pointing at the roll).

Of course.

Well, like I always say:

When life hands you lemons..............

..................organize a closet....or two.....or three....................

Monday, June 24, 2013

On Library Sales and Reading Books

We hit our local library sale hard the other day--we took the "everything you can fit into a paper bag for $10" as a personal challenge and there was much arranging and rearranging to shove in just one more book as well as discussion about how much could be sticking out before we would be stopped at the door by the library police (i.e. the sweet old ladies at the checkout).  

I like to think of a library seconds sale more of a book rescue mission than a book sale.    Libraries are always "withdrawing" the best books to replace them with goodness knows what twaddle--especially when it comes to old children's books.  We had some major saves--even coming on the last day of the sale.  Care to see a sampling?

So, I like to read....sometimes to the detriment of the children....and I do occasionally look longingly to some undetermined time in the future when I can just sit and read a book as the boys play contentedly nearby without need of their current......umm....level of supervision.

In fact, I enjoy reading so much that I've recently taken to reading books about reading books.

I scandalized a local seven year old by bringing my copy of How to Read a Book* to the park.  He looked at the cover, looked at me and then walked off mumbling something under his breath that sounded a lot like she doesn't know how to read a book?  I thought about chasing him down to defend my honor and calmly explaining that clearly if I'm reading a book about how to read a book then I must in fact already know how to read but I restrained myself.

It has pretty much my favorite opening ever:
"This is a book for readers and for those who wish to become readers.  Particularly, it is for readers of books.  Even more particularly, it is for those whose main purpose in reading books is to gain increased understanding.
By "readers" we mean people who are still accustomed, as almost every literate and intelligent person used to be, to gain a large share of their information about and their understanding of the world from the written word.  Not all of it, or course; even in the days before radio and television, a certain amount of information and understanding was acquired through spoken words and through observation.  But for intelligent and curious people that was never enough.  They knew that they had to read too, and read they did. 
There is some feeling nowadays that reading is not as necessary as it once was.  Radio and especially television have taken over many of the functions once served by print, just as photography has taken over functions once served by painting and other graphic arts.  Admittedly, television serves some of these functions extremely well; the visual communication of news events, for example, has enormous impact.  The ability of radio to give us information while we are engaged in doing other things--for instance, driving a car--is remarkable, and a great saving of time.  But it may be seriously questioned whether the advent of modern communications media has much enhanced our understanding of the world in which we live.  
Perhaps we know more about the world than we used to, and insofar as knowledge is prerequisite to understanding, that is all to the good.  But knowledge is not as much a prerequisite to understanding as is commonly supposed.  We do not have to know everything about something in order to understand it; too many facts are often as much of an obstacle to understanding as to few.  There is a  sense in which we moderns are inundated with facts to the detriment of understanding.  
One of the reasons for this situation is that the very media we have mentioned are so designed as to make thinking seem unnecessary (though this is only an appearance).  The packing of intellectual positions and views is one of the most active enterprises of some of the best minds of our day.  The viewer of television, the listener to radio, the reader of magazines, is presented with a whole complex of elements--all the way from ingenious rhetoric to carefully selected data and statistics--to make it easy for him to "make up his own mind" with the minimum of difficulty and effort.  But the packaging is often done so effectively that the viewer, listener, or reader  does not make up his own mind at all.  Instead, he inserts a packaged opinion into his mind, somewhat like inserting a cassette into a cassette player.  He then pushes a button and "plays back" the opinion whenever it seems appropriate to do so.  He has performed acceptably without having had to think."

And as a book defacer I also enjoyed this part:
"When you buy a book, you establish a property right in it, just as you do in clothes or furniture when you buy and pay for them.  But the act of purchase is actually only the prelude to possession in the case of a book.  Full ownership of a book only comes when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make it a part of yourself--which comes to the same thing--is by writing in it.....Marking a book is literally an expression of your differences or your agreements with the author.  It is the highest respect you can pay him."

With all of my extra free time I've managed to start up two different book clubs here--a regular one and a Catholic mom one :)  We're reading Middlemarch** and Strange Gods respectively and I'm so excited to be able to read a good book and have someone to discuss it with.  Chris is probably also excited at the potential decrease in the times he hears "hey, listen to this!" followed by me reading huge sections of my current book aloud to him.  Okay that probably won't actually decrease--but, maybe he likes it?

These book clubs fit nicely with the fact that I generally have multiple books going at once....usually a novel,a non-fiction (mostly of the parenting/homeschooling variety these days) and also some kind of spiritual reading.  That way I've got options based on my mood and/or the children's noise level.

Reading is important.  That you read is important.  What you read is important:

"Books help to form us.  If you cut me open will you find volume after volume, page after page, the contents of every one I have ever read, somehow transmuted and transformed into me?...What a strange person I must be.  But if the books I have read have helped to form me, then probably nobody else who ever lived has read exactly the same books, all the same books and only the same books, as me.  So just as my genes and the soul within me make me uniquely me, so I am the unique sum of the books I have read.  I am my literary DNA."
~Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home

Now, I can almost hear you clamoring, "No Cristina, don't end this post yet!  I could go on reading about these things that I'm only mildly interested in and to which you have added almost no pictures of your precious children which are the only reason I read this to begin with!"   Well you are in luck my friends!  I don't have any cute pictures but I will leave you with some (much more) interesting thoughts than my own on the importance of reading and of not reading:

Dog-Eared Pursuits by Anthony Esolen

Liberate Yourself From E-Slavery by Christopher Check

Great Books, Higher Education, and the Logos by Michael M. Jordan

If anyone has time left to read through any of them I would love to hear your thoughts!

PS Chris would like me to announce to the world that in a mere six months of reading in ten minute increments before bed, we have managed to finish reading The Lord of the Rings aloud to each other--which is either precious or lame....I'll let you be the judge :)

PPS Andrew Henry's Meadow (as seen above) is my new favorite children's book for little boys who love to tinker :)

*Thanks Mr. Steve!

**I just got my copy of Middlemarch and I had no idea it was so long!   Apparently I pretty much went up to my friends and said the equivalent of, "I know what would be fun, let's read War and Peace this summer!" Sorry ladies :)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Early Morning Feasting

Henry is an early riser.  Sometimes we have luxurious weeks where he (and therefore me) sleeps in to 6:30, other times we have less luxurious weeks like this one where he is consistently up at o'dark thirty....and by o'dark thirty I mean 4:30 at the latest.   

And of course he doesn't like to be alone at o'dark thirty in the morning because it is dark and scary so he ever so kindly wakes up David to join him.  I've tried bribing him into sneaking out and coming into our room without waking his brother which does occasionally work, but overall his fear of being alone generally wins out, even over the promise of chocolate chips.  

This morning Chris got up with the boys, and by "got up" I mean escorted them to the living room, turned on a movie and went back to sleep on the couch.  When I joined them this is what we found in the kitchen:

Sorry for the fuzzy picture--this was pre-sunrise.

Apparently Henry got hungry and set up a covert feast on top of the kitchen stool where no one would see him--not that anyone was watching him anyway.  I guess he thought some peanut butter mixed with water and honey with a sprinkling of cheese would really hit the spot.  At least he made himself a little table instead of smearing his concoction all over the kitchen.

I didn't know whether to laugh or scold.  We compromised with me stifling my giggles and looking away while Chris handled the discipline.

I'm a really good mom.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lifeguards Are For Clinging....

The boys finished up swim lessons today....and by "swim lessons" I mean mostly sitting on the side of the pool and waiting their turn for the lifeguards to try once again to persuade them that putting your head under  (or anywhere near) the water is fun and not at all terrifying.

I even bought them goggles to help get them excited about potential head dunking but apparently goggles are only fun to wear when not actually anywhere near the water....

Henry had more fun than David, although they both looked forward to going to the pool each morning.  David just liked the idea of the pool more than the reality.

David kept a pretty tight grip-o-death on the lifeguard.  He never did do a "1, 2, dunkaroo" or even a "lay back and float and I promise I won't let go of you."  

At "graduation" the lifeguard informed me that if we wanted to sign the boys up for another session we should just do the preschool class again.  I guess they're just not quite ready for level one, which probably requires that the children not be horrified at the idea of getting their heads wet.

Apparently we need to spend more time in the pool........maybe with daddy there to help.   Swimming counts as PT right?  Right.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Catch and Release......

Well our little tadpole with the ridiculously long name is officially a frog....or toad....well, he's definitely some sort of amphibian.

Let's take a minute to really enjoy this picture.....just stop and soak it in............ really, go back and truly admire the fact that I got a clear picture of a swimming frog/toad/amphibian that shows both his arms and his legs through the glass.  It wasn't easy.

I kept having to shoo the children away.

 "No children, you may not look at our super interesting meta....metamorpha.......ummmm......metamorphasizing frog/toad/amphibian type creature.  Mommy is trying to capture this wonderful childhood memory so we can keep it forever and also put it on the internet so that everyone will know that I teach you important sciency things and see what a good mommy I am!"

Anyway, once he crawled up onto the land I figured it was only a matter of time before he would make a break for it so we gathered ourselves together for the big release....which turned out to be rather anti-climactic.

And also, on an unrelated side note, now that it's Florida summer again, I am battling the instant lens-fog-over every time I take my camera outside.  Does anyone have any tips?

Camera fog or no camera fog, Tom, Tom the Piper's Son enjoyed his new found freedom and we witnessed his very first hop....away from us and into the grass.  I have a feeling he is just the first in a long line of tadpoles...maybe next time we will find actual frog know....if we're really lucky.

And if you're interested here are our favorite tadpole books from the random assortment we grabbed at the library:


Friday, June 7, 2013

Tales From Our Garden: vol. 4 {The Ladybugs Arrive.....and Depart}

We survived the great tomato blight of 2013 only to be attacked by ravenous aphids.  So we did what anyone would do and ordered 300 live ladybugs from Amazon to mount a counter attack.

Unfortunately, according to Chris, no one explained to the ladybugs their indentured servitude status and they mostly flew free without fulfilling their aphid eating duties.

On the plus side, the boys (okay, mostly David) found playing with a bag of hundreds of ladybugs to be very entertaining and I highly recommend it, aphids or no :)

Henry, who possesses about the same helpfulness level of the ladybugs, quickly stole away to wow us with his somewhat less coordinated (albeit still highly amusing) rendition of "Me Ole Bamboo".  So the evening wasn't a complete loss.....

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tummy Time

Just look at that head control!  I'm pretty sure he's advanced.....way ahead of his peers, wouldn't you agree?   :)

And speaking of precocious babies, check out his amazing leg control.  Don't be fooled by the spasticness of the movements.....I'm sure he's in complete control of all of his limbs and various appendages.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Rats in the Pantry

We live in Florida.  We have a tinyhouse with a tinypantry......and also we have the kitchen......mostly of the giant cockroach, palmetto bug, and tree frog variety.

Now that it's summer and our critter friends have begun emerging from every crack and crevice and startling me in the wee hours of the morning I have begun emptying all of our pantry staples into more critter proof containers.

I have also begun to get fancy with the chalkboard contact paper and a chalk marker.

If I had a more appreciative audience here in my house-o-boys I may not feel the need to over-share this with you but I don't and I know there must be at least one person in my family who will be interested in my new pantry organization :)

I also splurged on some OXO containers to hold my various flours.....they're worth every penny.  I mean, what would you pay for the assurance that every scoop of your flour would be blessedly cockroach free?

Even with all of my food precautions however my pantry isn't 100% safe.  Today I noticed that my baking chocolate has still somehow been attacked by what can only be described as rodents of unusual size.......

......rodents with mouths about the size of a little three year old I know.........

And yes, apparently this particular giant rodent feasted on both chocolate and paper.  Sneaky rats don't have time for things like unwrapping their booty.

How to Create an Exceptionally Unattractive Birdhouse in Five Easy Steps

Our friend gave us a decorate-it-yourself-birdhouse for Henry's birthday.  David said that they needed to make it beautiful so that a bird would find it and love to live in it.  Here's how we accomplished that:

Step 1.  Cover the table & remove the children's clothes.

Step 2.  Hand your children a pre-made birdhouse, paint and paintbrushes.

Step 3.  Sit down to nurse the baby while admonishing children from across the room to please not spill/throw/splatter the paint.

Step 4.  Wait 4.26 minutes.

Step 5.  Rub children down with wet rag while admiring finished masterpiece.


Oh wait, you're probably going to want to pin this......

.....that's better.

Voilà  :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...